NFL News of December 27, 2002

While the Arizona Cardinals are not saying who their starting running back will be heading into next season, the evidence clearly points to Marcel Shipp over Thomas Jones.

In an unusual move for the notoriously conservative Cardinals organization, Shipp signed a four-year contract extension Thursday. The deal is worth about $8 million, but the size of the signing bonus—the only part of the contract that is guaranteed —was not known.

…It was one of the few times the franchise has signed a player to an extension who was about to become a restricted free agent and simply could have received a tender offer. The only other one in recent memory was Jake Plummer‘s extension signed during the 1998 season.

Shipp, extremely popular with his teammates, was not drafted out of Massachusetts and made the team a year ago as a free agent. The former Passaic County Tech star played entirely on special teams last season, and came into this year as Jones’ backup having never carried the ball in an NFL game.

Shipp has rushed for 776 yards in 171 carries and has caught 37 passes for 407 yards, including an 80-yard screen pass for a touchdown against St. Louis —the Cardinals’ longest scoring pass play since 1988.

His average of 5.7 yards per touch from scrimmage ranks fourth among NFL backs, and he leads the team with nine touchdowns.

— The Associated Press “NFL Notebook”

Marcel Shipp remained with the Cardinals through the 2007 season, though the team brought in Emmitt Smith and, later, Edgerrin James. He last played in the UFL for the Las Vegas Locomotives. Jones was traded to Tampa Bay after the 2002 season and later found success with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

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